Set against the vast and empty Plains of Camdeboo, abutted by the Valley of Desolation and surrounding mountains, the small Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet seems dwarfed, vulnerable, a fragile human outpost, more so when storm clouds gather.
Yet there is a beauty in the landscape, something stark and wonderful.
To wrap up the series on Paternoster, here is the first photograph I took, around 5.30 that morning, on my way to the beach: a row of cottages at the end of the road, the rain still glistening on the tarmac, a silver sliver of moon showing between the hurrying clouds.
I wrote in a previous post about fulfilling a long-standing wish of my mother’s, to visit the little fishing village of Paternoster, on the Cape West Coast: most of the time was family time, an extended celebration of her 87th birthday, but on the last morning I made sure I had some time for myself.
I rose early, at 05:00, and let myself out before dawn, and headed down to the beach. It had been raining, and the tide was out; the skies were cloudy and grey, and the dawn broke only weakly through. Here is a first series of images – the sweep of the beach, the distant cottages, the light almost monochromatic except where it is suffused with soft yellows and pinks.
We took the road via Setenil from Ronda before joining up with the A384 en route to Granada. The back roads took us through rugged, heat-seared, spectacular country, dotted with little white towns with Olvera, pictured, offering dramatic views as we approached.
Needless to say, we drove up into the town, parked, and explored. We were on holiday after all.
Ronda, perhaps the most famed and loveliest of Andalucia’s pueblos blancos, sits atop a massive cliff, rising sheer from the valley floor a hundred metres or more below. The old (read, Moorish) and new parts of the town are cleft in two by the Tajo Gorge, crossed, as I noted in my previous post, by the not-so-new, 18th century Puente Nuevo.
‘Spectacular’ is a word which has been rubbed dry of its meaning through overuse and repetition, yet it is really the only word to use of the vistas that open before and beneath you, when you gaze out from Ronda’s parapet, across a sea of rolling hills and olive groves and distant, tiny buildings, like small ships on a heaving ocean.
One of the best decisions we made on our trip to Spain was to head off the main road from Sevilla to Ronda, and take a detour through the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Grazalema. The ‘park’ is an area of wild beauty, rugged, steep, sheer, spectacular, dotted with isolated farmsteads and whitewashed pueblos blancos – the roads making for some nail-biting driving, the countryside for some dramatic photos.
Here is the road leading into – or out of – Grazalema. The farmer was tending his pigs a few kilometres outside and a couple of hundred metres below the village.